n this Sunday's story Jesus has been baptized by John and is beginning his period of active ministry by calling disciples to follow him. He went to Galilee and found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Jesus did not offer him an armload of theological encyclopedias, or job security, Jesus only offered himself. And Philip responded affirmatively and also became a recruiter for additional followers. Philip found his friend Nathanael and encouraged him to become a follower of Jesus. Nathanael was reluctant at first and asked questions, but Philip simply said, “Come and see.”
On this third Sunday after the Epiphany we overhear Jesus calling the Twelve Apostles, and a lot of disciples.
A teenager in love for the first time romances his date late into the night at their prom. When he gets home his parents ask if the band was good and who else was there and the young man does not seem to remember--- He only had eyes and ears for his true love.
If you have been fortunate enough to have experienced true love you know the feeling that was running through the disciples minds as they were recruited to become Jesus’ followers. Indeed, the love that they knew also included divine love as God’s Spirit became a part of the relationship.
However, in any relationship one person has the choice to turn the other away. It is not recorded, but is probable that some who were called to be Apostles refused to hear the call. Some possibly refused to listen.
Back in dashboard C.B. radio days truckers used a term for folks with antennas who would not respond to a call, “They have peanut butter in their ears.” Sometimes, their radio was off. They did not “have their ears on.”
Since Martin Luther re-defined the concept of the “Priesthood of all Believers,” most of the Church has believed that we are all called by God for a special purpose. We United Methodists even define it in our BOOK OF DISCIPLINE. We talk about the “Ministry of the Baptized” and the “Ministry of Ordination.” With our baptism comes the privilege and responsibility to pray directly to God and not through an intermediary. You are called to exercise the right to pray for others and to talk with others as one who shares the joy of having experienced Christ’s Call.
Think how we would severely limit the working of the Church is we had to call an ordained person to pray or counsel with us. We Methodists depend very heavily on laypersons who are genuinely called to teach in the churches and to work in the administration thereof.
John Wesley set aside laypersons to preach in places where no ordained priest could or would go. Circuit Riding Methodist Preachers helped re-mold the face of England, and especially in America. Few Circuit Riders were ordained but they did not let it hold them back. They forded the streams in all kinds of weather. An old saying on a rainy cold night in rural American was, “There’s nothing out tonight but crows and Methodist preachers.
The Spirit of God calls all of us to serve and will lead you into service. We have several young people who have come to me with the Spirit of Christ’s Call upon their lives. Some are in seminary and some are investigating various types of calling. There are many fields of service for young people in today’s church and God will guide them into the fit that He has in mind for them.
However, of all of the best uses of the concept of calling in the New Testament the most basic is His call for rebels to accept the redeeming Grace of God in Christ. The Christian vocational calling and choice can only come after a relationship with the Divine has called.
My own personal salvation experience and my definite call into pastoral ministry came together. I was in my second sophomore year in college when to Lord came to me alone in my dormitory room on a rainy Sunday afternoon. He called for me to come and I got up and went, much like the Apostles did when Jesus called them to come and follow Him. I have been led and driven by this call from that moment on.
These who are going out from our church on short term missionary assignments are under a similar a call to serve Christ as doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, interpreters, carpenters and helpers. All are to be witnesses for our Lord in work and in witness.
And finally, we are the ones on the receiving end of blessings. The greatest thrill in our lives can be in the times we know that we have been used by God who flung the Stars into place, and has now come to work through us.
There is no telling how God might use and bless your life if you will turn your heart toward Him. He invites all of us to COME AND BECOME the people that He would have us become.______________________
Note to Readers: These sermon notes are not necessarily my full sermon for the forthcoming Sunday. I currently preach three times each Sunday morning and each sermon takes on its own tone. I do not read the above text, nor do I carry it with me into the pulpit. As one who studied homiletics seriously some years ago, I feel that the printed sermon is merely a corpse of the living sermon that is live and dynamic. However, if feel the need to get it down in some form, like the above, so that I can preach it to myself first. Thanks for reading it. More are found at www.BobsSermons.com, and www.cfumc.com
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor